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Hanging in Montreal ... Lots Going On ... Jay Bouwmeester a Former Panther Soon ... Mike Keenan Says Hello

Expos MONTREAL -- Just got back from the prospects luncheon where I met a number of the guys who will be taken in tomorrow's first round.

Good group of players, no doubt. We'll see if the Panthers are able to sneak higher into the draft and take one.

If Florida stays at No. 14, one player to look for is defenseman John Moore out of Chicago. Kid is a pretty good player. Signed to play at Colorado College next year, but he says he's open to playing junior hockey if a team wants him to. Apparently every team does.

-- Word on the street is the Panthers sale to the Sports Properties Acquisition Corp. is done, with Tony Tavares -- who is part of that group -- already reported to be part of a bid for the Phoenix Coyotes.

I have now heard that Tavares is set to be part of the Phoenix deal with Jerry Reinsdorf, but that will have nothing to do with the Panthers other than Tavares would have to excuse himself from SPAC.

Finally got to talk to Michael Yormark today, and as he's done throughout this entire process, he refused to comment on anything regarding the sale. He did tell me that ''it's business as usual'' with the Panthers, and that the GM search is ongoing. They are taking their time.

-- The Jay Bouwmeester rumors are running rampant up here, with my people telling me that Philadelphia really wants Jay and are will to make some moves. Also have heard Vancouver is seriously in the mix and that the Canucks feel confident they would be able to get Jay to sign there with little problem.

Jay may be a former Panther within the next few hours, although I wouldn't be surprised to see this linger into tomorrow. The draft isn't until tomorrow night, so there's no rush. Well, OK, there is a little rush.

-- Ran into Mike Keenan outside the hotel here in Montreal. He looks tan and fit as usual, and says he's glad he's not in South Florida right now. Because of the weather. I do not blame him. It's Texas hot. It's warm here, but it's like our winter.

-- Spoke with Pierre McGuire regarding the Florida GM search and he says he has not spoken to Mr. Torrey yet. Which is strange, because I think the Panthers are real high on him. But with a break in the action, this is not so strange after all.

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